Last Night’s TV – Above Their Station

by Lynn Connolly

This comedy was billed as a ‘one off’ by the BBC, but I’m assuming it was in fact a pilot episode. And having watched it, I still can’t decide if it should be continued…

It’s about a police station in Vange where PCSOs compete with – and are regularly abused by – ‘real’ police officers.

Parts of it were hilarious and some of the characters exceptionally funny and well-rounded, but alternately, some scenes were so ridiculous, they stole credibility from the show overall…

It felt almost as if it had been written by two people and their diametrically different scripts somehow sewn together. However, it seems there was just one writer, Rhys Thomas – who also played PCSO Perry – so I can only assume he has dual-personality moments when he writes…

But as I said, some of the scenes were laugh out loud funny; Andrew Brooke played PC Preston and – with the exception of the last few minutes – every word and deed was genuinely funny.

PCSO Len was played by Luke Gell who brought a charmingly fey, camp personality to his character, and he too was given some fall-about lines…

For example, during one scene, Len had been suspended from duty while an investigation into his injuring a swan took place. So when the camera panned to him after he said he’d been suspended, we saw he was literally suspended using a chair and copious quantities of police tape.

There were some big names from the little screen there too, such as Ruth Connell, Dennis Lawson and Dudley Sutton.

However, for every truly comedic moment, there was a pretty dire one where the humour felt strained and as though it was trying too hard. And I’m afraid one spanner in the works for me was PCSO Kelly, played by Ashley Madekwe. She just wasn’t funny and any scene with her in it felt stilted and OTT.

That said, the first few scenes in which we saw Dennis Lawson were likewise clumsily overboard, so maybe even the greats struggle now and again. But Lawson soon settled into his character and again, his lines and actions were laugh out loud funny.

Overall, if the ‘cheese’ factor were taken out, and the attempts at slapstick – as well as the surreal/unbelievable parts – I suspect Rhys Thomas could well have a hit show on his hands. However, if the OTT filler is left in, I’m afraid it’s destined for the cutting room floor.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.